Man's Quest for Social Guidance: The Study of Social Problems

By Howard W. Odum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
BUSINESS AND SOCIETY

Business and Government. In two previous chapters the student has seen something of the interrelation of the community with government on the one hand; and something of the evolution of government and democracy through community processes on the other. Modern government is no longer a mere police force or a "compact" organization through which men may protect themselves from outside dangers and coerce one another within. Government takes cognizance of all the activities of mankind; and democracy, as Mr. Wilson expressed it, takes thought for the common man. Thus government is also concerned with the business and occupations of men. To what extent this is true may be seen from a study of the development of business relations and the interrelation of business and society as shown in the next two chapters. In the first place, government is interested in the encouragement of the forms, means, and rewards of work for its citizens. For work is a law of life and development and, as will be seen later on in this chapter, constitutes one of the basic economic factors. Government in a democracy is interested not only in the encouragement and promotion of opportunities for workers but in the protection of their rights and the enlargement of their happiness. There are necessary, therefore, certain laws and regulations, certain departments and commissions, through which government may work for the promotion of industry and industrial welfare. Interstate-commerce laws, laws curbing monopoly and trust, provisions for encouragment of proper co*peration, laws to facilitate federal banking and regional distribution of aids to farmers and business men, and other similar efforts are normal functions of the modern government. Indeed, one of the important problems of the modern era is that of deciding to what extent government may coöperate with business and business with government. Herein lies the crux of much of the misunderstanding and agitation between capital and labor, between social idealists and

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